An image of (Ruined church with poppies, Villers-Bretonneux)

Evelyn Chapman

(Australia 25 Oct 1888 – 18 Jul 1961)

(Ruined church with poppies, Villers-Bretonneux)

Not on display
Further information

Evelyn Chapman trained in Sydney under the Italian-born artist Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo, together with fellow students Grace Cossington Smith and Norah Simpson. She moved to Europe with her family in 1911 and attended the Académie Julian in Paris, gaining a classical training in life drawing. When war broke out in 1914, the family moved to London and Chapman spent time in St Ives, Cornwell, a thriving cosmopolitan colony for artists from around the world. She began painting vivid works in tempera and oil, which evidence her assimilation of French post-impressionist techniques.

In early 1919, Chapman accompanied her father, a member of the New Zealand War Graves Commission, to France, visiting the area near Villers-Bretonneux where many Australian and New Zealand soldiers had lost their lives. Struck by the destruction she witnessed in the villages and cities, Chapman set up her easel and began to paint the ruined buildings and landscape, annihilated by years of continued bombardment.

In a photograph taken of Chapman at Villers-Bretonneux in 1919, we see the artist seated amid the ruins of the church depicted in this painting. Despite the desolation of the landscape, the artist imbues a sense of optimism into the work, with its sunlit vista dotted with brilliant red poppies, thereby evoking hope, regeneration and life in a post-war world.

Place of origin
Villers-Bretonneux, Somme, France
circa 1919
oil? on thick grey card
39.0 x 30.5 cm board
Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.

Bequest of Pamela Thalben-Ball 2015
Accession number
© Estate of the artist